Screams

Eleven o’clock on a Saturday night…

It’s eleven o’clock on a Saturday night and I’m sitting here at a community table in the middle of a crowded coffee shop that’s bordering on 90s club scene as Metallica plays loud in the background. I have headphones in my ears while I listen to a remix of some song I’ve never heard of, wondering if the original is as fulfilling as this one. I’m drinking an agave wheat beer because the simple nut brown ale I wanted was all out, even though it’s on the menu. Everything is always out here, so the alternative choices are all I get, even if I’d hardly consider many of them alternatives to their preceding choices.

I work a job during the week that keeps my bank account active but my body and mind inert. When I get home from work, I have two choices to make, both polar opposites on the spectrum of activities. I can stay at home and lounge on the couch with my dog, or go to the gym that my work subsidizes a membership for, play a game or two of basketball, run on a treadmill for a mile so I can feel like I did something productive. And then go home and lounge on the couch with my dog. If I go to the gym, I’ll have to deal with the social awkwardness of pretending I don’t notice everyone around me, and that I don’t care that they can see me. I’ll have to accept the fact that many of them are more dedicated than I’ll ever be to any one thing, potential future spouse and children more than likely included. I’ll either still be at home or finally get there after the gym and look at myself in the mirror, unhappy with the reflection before me. I’ll stare for awhile, trying to convince myself that I’m somehow getting in shape, whatever the hell that even means.

Is that a vein that wasn’t there before? Well, it looks like it, so I guess I can handle a bag of Doritos here this one time. Oh, great. It’s getting closer to ten o’clock, which is my self-imposed bedtime that allows me an arbitrarily healthy amount of sleep before I have to wake up and repeat everything all over again the next day. Didn’t I used to get excited about no bedtimes in adulthood? Wasn’t that supposed to be part of the allure of adulthood? Wasn’t that a thing?

I hardly know what things are things anymore, and what things I experience were things I hoped to experience in the past. Like the weekdays, it’s all a bit blurred together as I trek on closer to my far off weekends of respite and true fulfillment; those days when I’ll finally be able to come alive and enjoy myself, trying new and exciting things, meeting new and exciting people. Except…it’s eleven o’clock on a Saturday night and I’m sitting here at a community table in the middle of a crowded coffee shop that’s bordering on 90s club scene as Metallica plays loud in the background.

Well shit.

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Screams

Coffee Shop Etiquette Part 2…

So you’ve read my previous post on coffee shop etiquette, right?

Good.

Now it’s time to look at coffee shop etiquette from the perspective of the paying side of the counter: the customer.

Let me start by saying this: if you choose to patron a specific business, do your best to be an informed consumer. A lot of people want to blame the coffee shop when things don’t turn out as they had hoped upon entering that day, but really, if they chose to inform themselves about that establishment beforehand, they would have saved themselves a lot of trouble. This is where services like Yelp, Urban Spoon, and other restaurant rating sites come in handy. Use them.

With that being said, it would still serve us well to discuss how coffee shops could do a better job of providing their customers with a positive experience. So, without further ado, here’s Coffee Shop Etiquette Part 2: Electric Boogaloo…

  1. Good coffee. This should be obvious, right? Well, it doesn’t seem so obvious to a number of shops. Now, I know that I can be a bit snobbish when it comes to my coffee, but that’s only because I like good coffee! If you’re going to invest the time and money into starting a coffee shop, be willing to invest in the best. Also, just because it’s the best does not mean it’s the most expensive. Take care of WHAT kind of beans you’re buying, as well as WHERE you’re buying them from. Nothing beats a quality product.
  2. Invest in your baristas. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered a drink, only to find that the coffee is either burnt, or the shots that have been pulled were stale. Teach them the proper techniques when it comes to pulling shots, brewing, pouring, and heck, even latte art. These things go a long way..
  3. Environment is essential. If the music is too loud, or obnoxious, you’ve already turned me off. If there are no comfy spaces to relax in, but restaurant style seating and tables, I’d really rather not. Set yourself apart from a regular restaurant, and give me a little nook I could fall asleep in while reading a novel. Also, lighting. Use it intelligently.
So that’s it. It doesn’t take a lot to make me a happy patron, but it sometimes feels like even these stipulations are too much for most coffee shops. That’s a shame.
Anything to add to this list? Give a shout in the comment section.
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Screams

Coffee Shop Etiquette…

If you’re reading this post, chances are you could be reading it from the cozy confines of a coffee shop. In today’s society, “the shop” has become the go-to place for socially “hanging out” (as the kids say), ranging from the Starbucks “paint-by-numbers” style atmosphere to the incredibly obscure (and therefore hip) Mom-and-Pop coffee shop on the south side of town.

Let’s face it: our culture is caffeinated and loving it. As such, it would be no surprise to walk into any coffee shop and find that 2/3’s of its patrons are surfing the web on either a computer or a mobile device of some kind. The ubiquity of free wi-fi has changed our very social structures in that we can hightail it over to any shop (and a lot of restaurants nowadays, including McDonald’s?) and enjoy the benefits of high speed internet access in order to get our work done. Many business owners and entrepreneurs in fact make the shop their place of work, as it can cut back on the cost of an office and other utility fees one might incur.

I for one love spending a good portion of my day with my laptop and/or iPhone, perusing the day’s most interesting bits of news and blog posts, all while sipping down on a freshly brewed Americano and indulging in a round of people watching (not creeping; there’s a difference, albeit however small).

With all of these perks though, come a few stipulations. Unfortunately, many people in our society are not aware that there is an unspoken coffee shop etiquette, and are therefore in danger of either taking advantage of they’re lovely shop owners, or ruining the experience for other patrons. So, if you’re going to indulge in free wi-fi and (oftentimes) over-priced delicious beverages, follow a few simple rules:

  1. Buy something. – Don’t be “that guy” who comes in, plops down for a good two hours, and never even so much as approaches the counter. You’re surfing the internet, where the near full of human knowledge is available at your fingertips, ON SOMEONE ELSE’S DIME! At least buy a scone or something, man. These things cost money for the owner, and if you want to keep indulging yourself, you better do your part to give the shop its best shot at staying afloat. Don’t mooch. Nobody will like you.
  2. How long you stay determines how much you buy. So you’ve purchased that triple non-fat mocha, but that was like, two hours ago. Are you obligated to purchase something else in accordance with how long you’ve been there? No. But should you? Yes! Take it as it’s worth, but my rule of thumb is that for every hour and a half I am spending at a shop, I buy at least one item. It doesn’t always have to be another coffee, or even something expensive. It might be a cookie or a biscotti (if I’m feeling ridiculous). By purchasing in accordance with your time spent, you’re showing the owners that you appreciate the services they offer. Besides, it’s not like spending an extra dollar or two is going to kill your pocketbooks. And if it is, then I question your need to be chillin’ at a coffee shop so much anyway.
  3. If the phone rings, you leave. Let’s be honest, coffee shops are not the “new library”, but they’re also a place of peace and relaxation for almost all who enter them. Don’t screw that up for everyone because you think you’re too important to take your call outside. Nobody else in the world cares about how late Bob’s TPS reports are, or how crazy last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy was. If it’s going to last longer than a minute, take it outside.
  4. Wear headphones. You’d be surprised that this would even be something necessary to mention, but I’ve overheard my fair share of Billboard’s Top 40 when I’d really rather not. If you’re going to blast Coldplay’s new godawful album, at least have the decency to corrupt your own eardrums and not everyone else’s around you.
There are many other rules I could give, but I already look enough like a grumpy old man, so I’ll just leave it at these as I view them to be the more pressing ones. If you think there’s another crucial rule to be mentioned, leave it in the comments.
Also, what’s the worst display of etiquette, or lack thereof, you’ve seen in a coffee shop before?
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